Dave Dawson’s natural history notes for 28th December:-

On the lake there were four Shovellers and five Pochards. Both of these ducks visit mainly in the winter. Shovellers used to occur in larger numbers in the 80s and 90s, but the last count of more than 30 birds was in December 2005. Conversely, Pochards have increased, with double figures seen in winter months mainly in recent years. The Mute swans have achieved yet another record count, 42, if only marginally larger than in late November. The early breeding bird species are becoming conspicuous. There’s a Song Thrush to be heard singing in Ashen Grove Wood, right by the children’s play area and a Stock dove in Horse Close Wood. Blackbirds are contesting for territory and Ring-necked parakeets even more noisy than usual. Almost all the leaf fall is over, with just a few leaves left on Oaks, Elders and Hazel. Several species are feeding on green Ivy berries, suggesting that other fruit is scarce this winter. Ivy bears flowers and fruit only where it’s able to climb up a tree.